Posted: December 19, 2008, 8:30 AM by Kelly McParland
As proposed changes to the Canadian Human Rights Act sit in political limbo, it seems the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) is determined to do its best to discredit itself further as an institution.
In April, a Quebec blogger named Marc Lebuis brought a complaint to the commission over a book published on the Internet by a Montreal-based fundamentalist Muslim, Abou Hammad Sulaiman al-Hayiti. Lebuis claimed that the book exposed gays, Jews, non-Muslims generally and other identifiable groups to “hatred or contempt” under the plain meaning of Section 13 of the act.
Mr. Lebuis’ purpose, he admits, was to “test the objectivity of the commission” in light of commission rulings against Christians for publishing equally or less strident language.
The commission failed the test spectacularly. On Dec. 5, CHRC officials told Lebuis that they would not proceed with an investigation of his complaint. They argued that Mr. al-Hayiti was free to say whatever he liked against “infidels,” and particularly non-Muslim women (what with their disturbingly wanton habits of dress and behaviour!) because they do not constitute an “identifiable group.” As for Mr. al-Hayiti’s imprecations against groups established as “identifiable,” like gays and Jews, the commission reported vaguely that these “do not seem” to meet the criteria for promoting hatred.
The first part of the finding has the tendency of permitting any kind of abusive language to be used against members of a notional majority group by a member of a minority. As for the second, Mr. al-Hayiti’s own words raise the question of what a radical Muslim writer could possibly ever do to be found guilty of arousing “hatred or contempt.”
Allah, Mr. al-Hayiti warns, has taught that “If the Jews, Christians, and [Zoroastrians] refuse to answer the call of Islam, and will not pay the jizyah [tax], then it is obligatory for Muslims to fight them if they are able.” Christianity, in particular, is denounced as a “religion of lies,” which is responsible for the West’s “perversity, corruption and adultery.”
At one point, Mr. al-Hayiti’s book refers to “the incredible number of gays and lesbians (may Allah curse and destroy them in this life and the next) who sow disorder upon the Earth and who desire to increase their numbers.” In one short passage, this combines a seeming accusation of demonic “recruitment” with an open wish for the complete elimination of homosexuals and a claim that they are a source of social chaos. It is like a mini-compendium of every form of dehumanization, in other words, to which gays and lesbians have ever been subjected. Can you imagine how a Christian who uttered a similar statement would be treated by a human rights commission?
Actually, we don’t need to wonder. A few years back, a Christian pastor named Stephen Boissoin printed some negative remarks about gays that were far tamer than those of Mr. al-Hayiti. The result: Alberta’s Human Rights Commission smacked him down, declaring that henceforth he “shall cease publishing in newspapers, by e-mail, on the radio, in public speeches or on the Internet, in future, disparaging remarks about gays and homosexuals.”
To our knowledge, Reverend Boissoin is the only religious figure anywhere in Canada who is legally barred from talking about homosexuality in his own sermons, in his own house of worship. Not Mr. al-Hayiti, though — he can slam gays all he likes, “human rights” be damned.
This is part of a pattern that has revealed itself over the last few years. Human rights commissions claim to be agencies that fight “hate” generically. But in fact, they are interested in a very narrow sub-category of alleged hatemonger — the right-winger accused of homophobia, anti-Muslim bias or some other thoughtcrime. The more unvarnished and explicitly murderous forms of hatred made manifest in the publications of, say, Jew-hating Muslims and Hindu-hating Sikhs are of no interest to the thought police.
In a narrow sense, the CHRC made the right call in this case: We are all in favour of Mr. al-Hayiti — or anyone else — being able to promote any particular interpretation of Islam, or any other religion. The larger problem is that Canada’s thought police obey a politically correct double standard.
Section 13 of the Human Rights Act should be abolished: We don’t want Canada to be a place where publications are screened for “hatred” by a coterie of bureaucrats. But until those people are properly turfed out of their jobs, perhaps the CHRC could be a little less overt in their bias against conservatism and Christianity.